Some months ago, another Methodist minister who is soon to move circuits said he was reading a book to help him prepare for that change. It was entitled ‘Making A Good Move‘ by Michael J Coyner, an American Methodist bishop. I set out to track it down.
First stop, Waterstone’s online. A friend had given me a gift voucher for them at Christmas, and so I ordered from them. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have found that Waterstone’s gaily advertises books, only to have a problem sourcing and supplying them. They seem to have a particular talent in this respect for American Christian titles. If you can’t sell it, don’t plug it, is what I say.
So off to trusty Amazon, who had no problem getting something published by Abingdon Press. These last few days I have had the pleasure of reading it. Not often would I say, “I wish I had read this years ago,” but this is one of the few books I would put into that category. I wish it had been published when I began in ministry (it wasn’t), and I certainly wish I had known about it before I moved to my current appointment.
The book is short (117 pages), which makes it pricey on the British market, at a list price of £11.99, but every single one of those pennies is well spent. Coyner has an easy writing style, which makes it quci reading. Almost too fast, in fact: it’s important to stop and reflect on his advice before diving into the next chapter. He covers everything from farewells in the place from which you are departing to your first year in the new appointment and your spiritual survival kit. In between, he looks at your first impressions, your early priorities, what style of leadership you might adopt and why, along with many other vital areas.
There are certain minor areas of difference between Coyner’s context and mine that can safely be reinterpreted. Few Methodist ministers in the UK will inherit a church with other paid staff. His examples of outreach are all grounded in the ‘attractional’ rather than the ‘missional’ model that I favour. (However, in fairness to him, that conversation had hardly started overtly ten years ago when the book was published.)
The one area I felt the book lacked was in the opening chapter, ‘Leaving Well and Letting Go’. Coyner only writes about situations where departing pastors have had a happy experience of the churches they are leaving. If he ever writes a second edition, then a section for those who are going because it had been an unhappy experience would be invaluable to many.
Having said that, I agree with Brian Bauknight who says in his blurb on the back cover, ‘Making A Good Move should be in the library of every pastor.’ If you are about to change appointments, you might well find this title a brilliant piece of last-minute reading.